With consumer generated content infiltrating the Super Bowl ads and a bunch of new IPTV (Internet protocol television) services launching recently, it seems like as good a time as any to make irresponsible predictions about the future of online video. Companies like Apple, with their Apple TV
bridge, and Cisco, with the speculation around their acquisition of Scientific Atlanta, are banking on the living room being the final frontier to what some are now calling "long tail video." However, as many have pointed out, television is a passive entertainment platform and whether or not people will want to actively manage their content, as opposed to just channel/TiVo surfing, remains to be seen.
This brings us back to the trusted personal computer. With the popularity of YouTube and the integration of video into even with the more mundane corners of the web, it's harder to make an argument that people don't want to watch video on their PCs. It's not just that people are watching video on their PCs but they're watching video that they traditionally have been watching on their televisions. In fact, according to a new InsightExpress
study for Advertising.com, news related content is the most popular kind of online video, which may come as a shock for those that suspected it was a cat hanging from a ceiling fan
So where is this all going? This week I discovered Bud.tv
and the Democracy player
, which I believe shed some light onto where online video is, and isn't, headed.
Let's start with Bud.tv. As Burt Helm at Business Week pointed out
, this site really racks up the "annoying points." Aside from bad content, which will kill even a well executed effort, the real problem with Bud.tv is the strategy behind the brand integration. This is a perfect example of how an old media attitude doesn't work in new media. By the time you've gotten to the actual content, you've already been through an unnecessary registration process and seen Budweiser branding for probably longer than your standard 30-second spot. Of course this doesn't stop the site from shoving a few more commercials down your throat. The 30-second spot really has no place in monetizing online video, unless it's central to the entertainment. Maybe over time Budweiser will shift some of that budget away from the commercials and into their content and give consumers a good online experience that is wrapped in the Budweiser brand.
On the other side of the spectrum, I also discovered the Democracy player through Steve Rubel's blog
this past week. While not a content provider, the Democracy player gives you the best interface I've seen to date for aggregated video content. Not only can you add video podcasts very easily but you can download and view BitTorrent files in one app (the major networks and movie studios might not love that feature quite as much as me though). Playlist creation is so effortless that creating a solid hour of "programming" can be done in about a minute once you're subscribed to your favorite feeds. There are great sharing features too. All in all, I could see an app like this monopolizing huge amounts of consumer time online in the very near future. You fire up your Democracy player and load your playlist of the local weather report, Sportscenter highlights and Jon Stewart's interview from the night before and then you're out the door. Can a DVR technology do that?
Since I've been a skeptic on IPTV for a little while, I'm going to install this on my Mac (it's cross-platform) at home tonight and try to use this as my morning news source for a week or so. I'll circle back to report on how it goes.